Summer time is notorious for being the season of weddings for BYU-Hawaii students. We interviewed two couples that were married this summer about their experiences and advice for those who want to pursue an eternal marriage.
Princess Donato, a senior from Qatar studying exercise and sports science, married James Astle, a BYUH alumnus from California, in the Laie Hawaii Temple on June 14.
Donato said their favorite part of the sealing ceremony was looking into each other’s eyes. “I was thinking, ‘I can't believe this is forever.’ We were just so overwhelmed with the beautiful spirit that was in that room,” she said.
Donato continued, “It was also emotional, especially when we saw Nanay, my grandma, crying the whole time. It was the feeling of love and happiness from our Heavenly Father and also from everyone that was there.”
Despite being overwhelmed, Astle said his advice for engaged couples is to focus on the most important thing on their wedding day: getting married in the temple of God. “Even though it won't turn out to be the perfect wedding of your dreams, remember the support [and] love that friends and families have given along the way. That alone makes it enough to be the perfect wedding,” he said.
The brother of the bride, Roche Donato, a freshman from Qatar studying EXS, said his favorite part was watching the sealing, which led to him imagining his wedding and planning his future. “They are such good examples. It was fun to see them so happy leaving the temple and at the photoshoot.”
Princess said they met at BYUH when she was asking students to take a class survey. She said, “We would say ‘hi’ whenever we saw each other on campus, but [we] would try to avoid conversation because I forgot his name and was too shy.”
Although they started officially dating on March 2, 2014, she left to serve in the Washington, D.C. South Mission in April 2014. “James supported and waited for me, even though I told him not to,” she stated.
Astle said, “It began with a feeling. I knew I had feelings for this girl that were pretty genuine in the sense that I could feel she could be by my side forever. It started small and eventually grew and grew as time persisted. Eventually, I would ponder on…what it would be like to marry her.”
Louell Lorzano, a BYUH alumnus from the Philippines who is doing academic training at the International Office, said she was touched as she read through their photobook at the reception. “I have seen how they transitioned from being friends to lovers and now eternal partners,” she said. “Love is indeed a wonderful event.”
Princess said they chose a summer wedding because it was the best time for her and her parents. “Summer is known to be popular for weddings and I didn't really want to do it at that time. But summer has great weather and no schoolwork. We were lucky to be the only ones to get married on that day at the temple, so the temple was not too busy.”
She said she was able to fulfill her dream of having an outdoor wedding. Astle said that the success of the preparation for the wedding and reception was all from Heavenly Father, family and friends. “Everyone was just so willing to lend a hand whenever and that was just a blessing.”
During the reception, Donato said the most memorable part was the father-daughter dance. “I didn't expect to cry, but all the memories of both my mom and dad came to my mind. I was just so grateful to have a family, and now I'm going to be able to have a new family.”
Astle said his favorite part was the sparklers at the end of the reception. “The day was ending but the sparklers symbolized the joy and light from family and friends that were with us along the way.”
Sean Wang, a sophomore studying business supply chain from Taiwan, and Anthea Kwan, a BYUH alumna from Washington, got married on June 9 in the Laie Hawaii Temple.
With their wedding scheduled right after Spring Semester, Kwan said the days leading up to their sealing were busy. “No matter how thoroughly we had planned everything, it just got really chaotic. Sean had finals and family over, and I was working 40 hours while we both had to move and delegate things for the wedding,” said Kwan.
“But it was all worth it. My favorite part was performing a surprise dance for Sean that I had learned only a few days before. He had no idea and it was really nice to give him a surprise,” she added.
Wang said his favorite part of the reception was the surprise video his sister prepared for him. “It had all the greetings from all my friends back in Taiwan. Only my parents were able to come [for the wedding] so I was really touched to see all the people I love in the video.”
Both Wang and Kwan said their favorite part of their sealing was “walking in and seeing that every chair in the sealing room was full. It made us feel loved and grateful that we have many wonderful and supportive friends and family who helped make everything happen.”
Michelle Wang, a senior from Taiwan studying business, said she loved how Sean kissed Anthea when the sealer asked the couple to kiss over the altar. “He stretched his hands, grabbed Anthea’s head, and kissed her wildly,” she said.
Sean said they met and became good friends at BYUH after they both returned from their missions. He served in the Washington Seattle Mission and Kwan served in the Taiwan Chaozhou Mission.
According to Sean, a summer wedding was great because more friends and family were able to come. “The best part is you’re more likely to get a TVA apartment,” he said.
Kwan said even though having a summer wedding may mean more expensive plane tickets, hot weather and a million other weddings, the ceremony is what really matters. “We suggest to all engaged couples – whether you have a detailed plan for the wedding reception or no plan – as long as you both focus on getting sealed in the temple, everything will work out,” she said.